2020 was a challenging year in a lot of ways. I think it’s safe to say that most people won’t spend much time fondly reminiscing about it. It was the kind of year that makes me want to look forward, not back. Nevertheless, we accomplished some great things with the South Atlantic Blueprint in 2020, so let’s review some of the highlights!

Updated South Atlantic Blueprint: The latest version of the South Atlantic Blueprint was released in August. Blueprint 2020 incorporated new and improved indicators, a finer resolution, new methods that resulted in fewer “speckles” of priority, more seamless integration across ecosystem boundaries, and improved alignment with neighboring plans. 111 people from 60 different organizations attended the virtual workshops to review the draft Blueprint this year! To refresh your memory on the South Atlantic Blueprint 2020 release, visit Rua’s August blog.

Released a changelog: This year, we added a changelog to the Blueprint documentation! The South Atlantic Blueprint changelog captures the major changes and improvements made in each version of the Blueprint. You can read more about it in my blog from November.

Blueprint used in 25 projects: The South Atlantic Blueprint was used in 25 completed projects this year, with many more still in progress. The chart at the beginning of this blog shows how use of the Blueprint has increased over time. We’re excited to build on this momentum in 2021! Here are a few examples of how the Blueprint was used this year:

  • The Catawba Council of Government (COG) used the Blueprint to help identify natural resource priorities in the comprehensive plan for the Town of Van Wyck in upstate South Carolina. This is the 4th local plan in upstate South Carolina to incorporate the Blueprint, continuing a strong collaboration with the Catawba COG over the last several years. While these plans are still awaiting approval by local elected officials, we’re excited about the Blueprint’s growing role in helping inform city and county planning.
  • The South Atlantic Blueprint was used to strengthen 13 proposals for funding this year, an all-time high! 13 people from 9 different organizations used the Blueprint to help support their grant applications in 2020. For most of those proposals, we’ll have to wait until next year to find out if they were successfully funded. The Blueprint was also used to review some proposals and to help evaluate parcels to determine whether they should be a priority for pursuing funding.
  • Through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) project, six Florida coastal communities are working to rebuild and improve resilience in the wake of extensive storm damage. The Blueprint helped identify important habitat corridors and show linkages to natural resource assets as part of a vision for strengthening green infrastructure and a regional recreation-based economy. Blueprint user support staff have also offered to help those cities use the Blueprint to bring in resources to implement that vision and clear barriers to conservation action. To learn more about this story, read Louise’s blog from September as well as her post from last month.